“You may know when first Truth leads by the fewness and faithfulness of its followers.”
(Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 225)
This statement is often held up by Christian Scientists as a banner of proof that Christian Science (a.k.a. Truth*) is as strong and relevant as ever, and as a denial of the reality of its very precipitous decline since about the mid 20th century. If you take it at face value, then Christian Science is stronger than virtually any religion out there–after all, it is the One True Religion, ordained by God and revealed by God to Mary Baker Eddy. The followers are few (by some educated estimates less than 200,000 worldwide)**, and those who still cling to this faith are dogmatically strong in their adherence to it–all too often to early and unpleasant deaths. It brings in few new converts–the vast majority of Christian Scientists I know are 2nd generation or more–in my own case, I was a 3rd generation. It’s largely an inherited religion, except in some African and South American countries where it has experienced recent growth, although I understand that growth, especially in South America, has levelled off.
As I see it, this is another of many examples of self-delusion on the part of Christian Scientists and their church, and I freely admit that I used to drink this Kool-Aid too. Perhaps Mary Baker Eddy knew what the future might hold when she wrote that statement. I clung to the hope that the decline in numbers meant that we were right and everyone else was wrong. However, that always flew in the face of what I knew deep down was true and logical (I just did not want to admit it): if Christian Science was really the amazing healing remedy that it claims to be, then everyone would be flocking to it and away from conventional medical care. I have yet to see that happen. The opposite is true–it is declining rapidly. Christian Science has amply demonstrated time and time again, in my own experience and that of many others, that it does not work. It is declining and will eventually become extinct for that very undeniably real reason.
* “Truth” is used here as a synonym of God. Mary Baker Eddy, in Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures (p. 465), gave 7 synonyms for God: Life, Truth, Love, Principle, Mind, Soul, and Spirit. When used in this manner, these “synonyms” are capitalized in Christian Science “grammar”.
** In accordance with Article VIII, Section 28 of the Manual of the Mother Church, which states that, “Christian Scientists shall not report for publication the number of the members of The Mother Church, nor that of the branch churches.”, The Mother Church does not publish the number of members. In the 1936 United States census, the last to report numbers of particular religious affiliation, there was a count of 268,915 Christian Scientists in the United States.1
1 “Christian Science.” Adherents.com. n.d. Web. 3 December 2013. <http://www.adherents.com/Na/Na_156.html>